Belgian authorities yesterday revealed more details about raids that took place in several Belgian cities on Tuesday. Raids were carried out on 15 houses in Ghent, Deinze and Antwerp and 15 people were taken for questioning, including four who have subsequently been charged with participating in terrorist activity and funding terrorism. Some of them are suspected of recruiting people with a view to travelling to Syria and joining ISIS there.
One of those arrested, Sufian A, had previously travelled to Syria. He was wounded in the fighting and returned to Belgium in 2014. According to media reports in Brussels, he was arrested at his home in Deinze and was affiliated to a terrorist organisation called “Shariah in Belgium”. The authorities banned the organisation’s activities more than three years ago.
The terrorist organisation “Shariah in Belgium” was dismantled in April 2013. Forty four of its members were sentenced up to 15 years in prison. Most of them were sentenced in absentia in February 2015. Amongst those who were sentenced in absentia was Hisham Al-Shaib, who was sentenced to 15 years in prison. Al-Shaib travelled to ISIS’ stronghold in Syria, Raqqa and joined the “Islamic Police” as an officer. He appeared in a video clip after the Brussels attacks praising the perpetrators and then shot a Kurdish prisoner in the head.